Yoruba Philosophy and the Seeds of Enlightenment

Advancing Yoruba Philosophy

by Yemi D. Prince

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For upwards of 25 years, Yemi D. Prince (also known as Yemi D. Ogunyemi) has systematically devoted himself to the education, research and reason of Creative Writing and from Creative Writing to Creative Thinking and from Creative Thinking to Yoruba narrative, cultural, folk philosophy. On realizing that Creative Thinking has become his area of focus and interest, he succeeds in cultivating big ideas, combining them with his life-long experiences in the Humanities, transforming them into new ways of writing, thinking or reasoning. (Some of his big ideas have led to the publication of booklets such as Yoruba Idealism, We Should All Be Philosophers, The Artist-Philosophers in Yoruba land, Codes of Morality and Pursuit of Wisdom.) Thus his big ideas have helped him separate Yoruba folk philosophy from Yoruba autochthonous religion. With his love for big ideas, born out of Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking, he has been able to put a new face on Yoruba Philosophy.

Yoruba Philosophy and the Seeds of Enlightenment

Chapter One: Yoruba Philosophy in the Beginning: This chapter shows the vortex of uncertainties during the proto-history of Ile-Ife and how Oduduwa discreetly used his faculty/head (ori) to put things in order, taking cognizance of the natural virtues. This chapter lets us know that Philosophy, the act of reasoning is antecedent to religion.

Chapter Two: The Kernel of Yoruba Philosophy: This shows the trichotomic quintessence of Yoruba culture, embodying philosophy, religion and literature.

Chapter Three: Oduduwa’s Leadership Philosophy: Here it is shown how Divinity-Philosopher Oduduwa lets his people know that the ability to lead is the ability to understand and consider the opinions of others, young and old, as contained in Yoruba ethical values. Comprehension and reasoning should start at an early stage.

Chapter Four: The Power of Words and Love: Either in an oral culture or in a written culture, this chapter lets us know how words and love have become a sine qua non in our daily life.

Chapter Five: Some Hints in Teaching Yoruba Philosophy: This chapter pinpoints some fundamental topics while teaching Yoruba philosophy as an academic subject.

Chapter Six: The Philosophy of Sacrifice: This shows how creatures are being sacrificed by the sacrificers on a daily basis. In short, there are sacrificers and the sacrificed. That the world is a whirligig is incontrovertible.

Chapter Seven: Head, the Philosophy of the Body: This chapter depicts the head as the captain, the definition and the substrate onto which other parts of the body are answerable.

Chapter Eight: A Typical Yoruba Narrative Philosophy: This lets us know a classical narrative about and how an ostrich lost his flight feathers when he did not properly carry his head (ori). Consequently, he became a flightless bird.

Chapter Nine: Diviners as Philosophers: This chapter lets us know that there are traits of philosophy in a diviner, as there are traits of divination in a philosopher. What is common to both diviner and philosopher is the knowledge and the truth. They are perpetual seekers. Both of them seek knowledge and truth. This is their principal goal.

Chapter Ten: Artistic Expression of Yoruba Philosophy: This chapter sheds light on how sculptural artists had worked hard and expressed themselves spiritually and corporeally like philosophers. In proto-history, they formed different Art Guilds in Ile-Ife, which could be likened to our today’s Cultural Schools of Philosophy, today.

Chapter Eleven: The Metaphysical Divinities: Spearheaded by Oduduwa, this chapter supplies the chronology of the top ten Yoruba philosophers who opened the door to the Yoruba Book of Enlightenment and prepared them for the act of reasoning.

Chapter Twelve: The Ontological Journey to the Atlantic Yoruba: This chapter lets us know how one of the children of Oduduwa journeyed to the southern part of Yoruba-land and founded the Atlantic Yoruba.

Chapter Thirteen: The Theory of Narrative Philosophy: The theory of narrative philosophy is an explicit conspectus about the narrative philosophy, as expounded by Mi Rivera, who went around the world as a raconteur, telling and collecting old and new stories.

Chapter Fourteen: Vicissitudes of Yoruba Philosophy: This chapter seeks to pinpoint the ups and downs about the Yoruba Philosophy.

Chapter Fifteen: The Sociology of Yoruba Philosophy: This chapter essays to shed light upon the country and urban philosophy.

Chapter Sixteen: Symbolisms of Yoruba Thought: What are the symbolisms of Yoruba philosophy? This chapter seeks to answer the question.

Chapter Seventeen: The Import of Chief Awo’s Philosophy: This chapter sheds light on Chief Awo’s political philosophy, who is today remembered as the President Nigeria never had.

Chapter Eighteen: The Sublimity of Fagunwa’s Metaphysics: This chapter brings to light D.O. Fagunwa, the first folk philosopher in post oral culture Yoruba-land.

Chapter Nineteen: The Royalties and the Yoruba Thought: This concerns itself with the king and his royal family. It helps us understand the role played by the king regarding folk/cultural philosophy. Natural virtues are at the disposal of the royalties.

Chapter Twenty: The Import of Ijapa’s Philosophy: This chapter reveals how Ijapa is the greatest folk/narrative philosopher the Yorubaland ever knows.

Chapter Twenty-One: Yoruba Philosophy of Happiness: This shows the path to the philosophy of happiness as it relates to the Yoruba people.

Chapter Twenty-Two: The New Dawn—Part One: Shows the Movement towards African/Cultural Enlightenment during the second half of the 20th century.

Chapter Twenty-Three: The New Dawn—Part Two: This chapter manifests the stages of Cultural Movement in respect of Enlightenment.

Chapter Twenty-Four: The Way to Enlightenment: This chapter names four luminaries (Fagunwa, Crowther, Johnson and Soyinka) who have contributed largely to the Way of Enlightenment.

Chapter Twenty-Five: The Effects of Psychology on Yoruba Thought: This chapter manifests how psychology/divination works in tandem with philosophy.

Chapter Twenty-Six: The characteristics of Yoruba Pragmatism: What are the characteristics of Yoruba pragmatism? This chapter depicts and sheds light on them.

Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Effects of Paradoxes on Yoruba Philosophy: Here Yoruba philosophy shows some effects of paradoxes.

Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Impacts of Proverbs on Yoruba Thought: Proverbs are very common when it comes to the act of reasoning. This chapter expatiates on some.

Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Colorful House of Ethics: Here some ethical values and cardinal virtues of the land are made known.

Chapter Thirty: The Philosophical Aphorisms: This chapter enumerates some of the common-place philosophical aphorisms. It helps one to comprehend the fact that Yoruba-land is rich in maxims, proverbs and sayings which are often the precincts of the keepers of traditions.

Chapter Thirty-One: The Religion-Philosophy of Samuel Ajayi Crowther (1807-1891): This chapter relates and illustrates how Bishop (Dr.) Samuel Ajayi Crowther showed his passion for religion and folk philosophy before and after his consecration in 1864.

Chapter Thirty-Two: Philosophy of Yoruba Language: This chapter speaks to Philosophy of Language in general and to Yoruba in particular. It lets us know that language philosophers always seek to understand the way language represents reality.

Yemi D. Prince (also known as Yemi D. Ogunyemi) is a luminous literary philosopher, often fascinated by books, letters and the power of words. With Creative Writing, Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking, he delightfully and systematically blends Yoruba philosophy with folktales—literature, and religion. Former research Fellow, Harvard University, former Director, Institute of Creative Writing, Yemi has authored over 40 titles of literary works—fiction, nonfiction, plays, poetry and children’s stories. His recent publications include Studying Creative Writing in Nigeria, The Birth of a Child in a Fishing Boat, his memoir, and The Oral Traditions in Yorubaland.

Folk Philosophy, Cultural Philosophy, Narrative Philosophy, Creative Thinking, Literary Philosophy, New Face of Philosophy, Yoruba Philosophy within African Philosophy, Book of Enlightenment

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Yoruba Philosophy and the Seeds of Enlightenment

Book Subtitle

Advancing Yoruba Philosophy





Number of pages


Physical size



2 B&W

Publication date

January 2019